Trump, my dad, and the rightward shift of Latino men

A better place to start might be jobs: what the experiences of men and women look like in the American economy right now, and how that might influence their thinking about politics. Stephanie Valencia of EquisLabs, a Democratic research firm that surveyed Latino voters in 11 states starting in 2019, says that, in the run-up to the election, they found plenty of men who had what she called “Trump intrigue.” “They see him as the successful businessman, and they see him as somebody who has built himself up from his bootstraps, even though we all know that’s not necessarily true,” she told me.

That may contrast with the experiences of Latinas, many of whom are running their households, managing child care or employed as front-line and domestic workers — nurses or caretakers for the elderly. “They are making sure their kids are prepared for Zoom school,” Valencia explains. “I think there’s a fundamentally different experience that Hispanic men and women have in both what they experience day to day and what information they consume.”

Trump’s image as a straight-talking businessman was definitely part of what appealed to my dad. He liked that Trump was a graduate of the Wharton School and that the former president grew up with men similar to those who worked with my grandfather. “We’d run into the electrical contractor’s union or somebody else working in houses, building houses. Every one of them talked like Trump,” my dad said. “No big words. Everything was very, very simple. And Trump learned to do that. He learned to master that, where he can communicate.”